Monday, March 23, 2009

Thank you and Goodbye.

Due to time contraints I have made the decision to close down this blog. Who knew that having a horse, studying, working and having friends and family could take up so much time haha?

I've really enjoyed writing this blog but I feel that I don't have the time to invest into it to make it a success. I will be riding still and I will also continue to read all your blogs when I get the chance so I wont completely dissapear from the riding and blogging world.

Thank you all so much for the support you gave me throughout this endevour.

God Bless you all.

Happy Trails.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Dressage Lesson

My lesson was fantastic. M, my instructor, is also a good friend and I knew he would be able to help me a lot with my Dressage riding. He kindly agreed to give me a lesson.

The first thing M did was drop my stirrups down two holes. He said he had wanted to do that since the first time he saw me ride last week. Previously, my position has been bunched up and I used my heels as my driving aid, rather then my seat. Next he had me turn my toes in so they pointed forward rather then out. Both these adjustments meant that I was sitting on the middle of my pelvis rather then on my butt (this is sometimes referred to as"the armchair position".) These adjustments also meant I felt like my ankes were going to pop out of their sockets at anytime. When I told him this he said I would soon get to used to it if I kept practicing. Since I wasn't used to having my stirrups so long and I was un-coordinated with them at that length, M took them away for part of the lesson. We did lots of work without them (and I'm feeling it now in my thighs and core) and my legs lengthened down a lot. M asked me to put my feet back into the stirrups later and he said they would probably feel too short now. And lo and behold they were, so he put them down another two holes and they were perfect. If someone had said to me that I could ride with holes 4 down from my original dressage length I would have told them to stop joking. Its amazing how much a change in position can make.

The entire lesson was about me retaining the right position and using my seat as aids. There was no forcing Jack into a frame or generally interfering with him at all. We literally did nothing but transitions the entire time and I loved it. I felt I improved a lot and Jacks transitions and the quality of his paces were way better then they ever have been.

Most of the lesson was great, except when my legs and arms decided to disconnect from my brain. My elbows started moving out and upwards given me the dreaded "chicken wings", my heels would start turing out and my eyes would drop. M would be calling "Toes in! Toes in! Keep your eyes up! What are those arms doing?" and I would try and try to get everything to go in the right places but they would just float off in their own direction. I felt like an absolute un-coordinated freak. It was really funny and M and I both laughed a lot.

Jack did really well throughout the whole lesson. He responded so well to all my seat aids and he really was using himself well. The quality of his paces improved ten fold. It really shows that when you use your body right, your horse has a way bigger chance to use himself correctly. Hopefully M will be able to give me a lesson in the near future so we can keep improving.

Let me show you around

Jack has now been at his new home for about three weeks and we are finally getting a routine set. There is always a need to smooth out some kinks when moving to new grazing and I think we have finally done that.

Jack lives at the Equestrian Centre on the main campus. I am currently studying at the other campus in town but it doesn't make much of a difference since its only a 3 minute drive from one campus to the other. I will be moving to the main campus in the second semester so that will make things a tad easier.

Feed Sheds aka Rat Haven

The centre is pretty well equipped with an all-weather arena (which is sqaureish... I find that strange) with 15 hectares of grazing land that is divided into 21 paddocks. There are feed and storage sheds. The feed sheds have rats... "shudder". Usually I'll bang a lot on the door of the feed shed and then count to 20 to give the rats time to hide before I go in. I can't stand them.

The Arena

Two of the stables

Jack's paddock is rather small which means supplement feed is essential. His feed has been upped since I came down and he's getting a biscuit of hay a day. His weight has finally stabilised so I think we have found the right balance for the time being.

Jack in his paddock

I keep Jack's tack in one of the sheds by the arena. The arena is quite a way from the paddock so usually I'll chuck Jack's halter on and bareback him up to the shed and tack him up there. He's actually really responsive in just the halter, I can neck rein and leg yield him to get him to change directions. There are closer tack sheds but by the time I found this out, the sheds were pretty much full.

Jack's tack shed

Its a great place to be and the other grazers are really helpful and nice. I am so glad I have the opportunity to bring Jack with me here!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Stomp! Stomp!

Jack's ground manners have been bad from the start. Apparently he's pushy and overbearing because when he was first rescued off the track he was on deaths door. He just stood in the paddock and was dull and lifeless. As he started getting better, his personality started appearing and his rescuers were so happy that he was finally showing signs of life, they let him do whatever he wanted. This meant showing him no discipline whatsoever. As a result, he can be a big bully and thinks that everyone should get out of the way of him. I dealt with this when I first got him (with the help of an instructor from Pony Club) and overall he's become a horse that will respect your space much more.

But... he has the amazing ability to stand on my foot often, and hard. I swear he knows what he's doing because he'll literally grind his hoof down and will totally ignore me as I try desperately to push him off. This is the state of my left foot at the moment:

My feet are ugly generally, but Jack does not help with his re-modeling. Please note my big toe. Currently half the nail has peeled off due to a particularly bad stomp that Jack granted me with a few months ago. The whole toe went black and recently the bottom half of the nail decided to vacate my foot, leaving the top half. Once the new nail has grown completely underneath, the blackened top half will come off (hopefully).

Please also observe the two purpley patches just beneath my toes. Jack gave me this on the day of his arrival to Massey. He did at the last possible minute of our time together, which shows he knows exactly what he was doing. He stomped and he twisted and when I finally managed to push him off, the foot was hurting badly. I originally thought it was broken and could barely walk on it. But soon the pain went away and was replaced with swelling and bruising. The cuts bled a lot and my foot looked huge. Once the swelling went away, I could wear normal shoes again. The cuts are only just healing properly now.

My right foot is in better condition. But only just. I have some mean blood vessel damage from Jack getting his stomping shoes on.

Maybe its time to invest in some steel cap boots. Maybe that will foil Jack's stomping attempts... but he would probably just wait until I changed into my riding boots.

Back to blogging

I've been having massive problems with my laptop and internet over the last few weeks which has been the reason why I haven't been regularly blogging. But yesterday it was fixed and everything is running smoothly which means I can get back to blogging.

Jack had a two week break which finished yesterday. His hooves had grown out and the farrier was unavaliable for awhile. I didn't want to risk riding when the shoes were pressing into the sole of his hoof. R, the new farrier, was good. He was very fast and he did a decent job. Although to my eye, he made Jack's club hoof much shorter then it has been in previous times... I'm going to keep my eyes open and see how that goes and ask R about it next time he comes.

Jack's ground manners have deteriorated in the two weeks that he had off. And getting his bridle on was a nightmare. I'm going to have to bring him back to basics again and do lots of groundwork with him. Next time he needs time off, I am going to make sure I bridle him every couple of days and work on his ground manners.

Once I finally managed to get his bridle on, we rode. Dressage was on the books and Jack worked great. He got straight down to work which really suprised me considering the bridling performance he had just given me. We did lots of bending and serpentines at the walk and then gradually worked up to canter and trot. We are having a Dressage lesson with one of my friends on Saturday, which I'm hoping will get us on track for improvement in our dressage since I really don't know what I'm doing or what I should be doing.

I'll be riding again today. I'm hoping to work on Show Jumping since we both love that and what is riding if it isn't fun?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Bucks and other stuff

Wow, I have never been so busy in my life. Uni is obviously taking up a lot of my time, and juggling Jack and my social life is a massive feat but I'm doing it. I'm living in a Hostel with 30 other (mostly) first year uni students so study is based on pure will power. The temptation to leave my room to join in the interesting coversations in the corridor is big, but I am determined to get high marks in my course.

It poured on the weekend so I didn't ride for two days. This turned out to be a mistake because I also started Jack on twice daily feedings at the same time. When I got on him on Monday night he had turned into a monster. He bucked, he reared and he shyed A LOT. My well-behaved horse was showing his bad side. I'm the one to blame though. It was a fun ride anyway, we jumped for the first time since coming here and I didn't fall off. Jack did drop two poles which was very strange for him. I really must get him back into regular work for both our sakes.

Life is good, I'm really hoping to get Jack to a couple of one day events in the Hawkes Bay in April but we'll see whats happening with my finances. I'll be looking into Show Jumping around the area too so maybe I'll finally meet you Beckz?